Woman Flees Tinder Date After Being 'Catfished' By Four Men
A woman was forced to flee a Tinder date after realising she'd been 'catfished' when four men turned up to meet her.
Amy Sharp, a hairdresser from Chard, Somerset, had been talking to someone she believed was called 'James' on the dating app for three weeks.
She eventually agreed to go on a date with him last Wednesday at around 9pm, only to be greeted by four blokes - none of whom were who she believed she was meeting.
As the group got out of a white Mercedes and approached her through the dark pub car park, Amy rang 'James', which was when one of the men's phones lit up.
It was at that point she realised the account had used fake photos to lure her in, and she drove off to call the police.
Amy, 28, claims cops told her 'James' had admitted to using a fake name and pictures as he had a girlfriend and was worried she'd find out.
Amy said: "I was really shaken up.
"With all the Ted Bundy stuff, I know it's really extreme, but you just don't know how far it's going to go.
"The more I think about it the scarier it is. It was obviously calculated.
"I don't want to know what would have happened if I got out that car.
"At the end of the day, there were four blokes there. I'm 5ft 3 and 9st.
"Let's be honest, they weren't all coming for a drink.
"Four blokes going to meet one girl on her own - I don't know what they were planning on doing. They weren't all going to take me for dinner.
"I'm not saying he was going to murder me, but at the end of the day, he gave me a fake name.
"Something was going to happen but I don't know what."
After Amy first started talking to 'James' on Tinder, she found him 'totally normal', and it wasn't long before they agreed to meet for a drink in Tiverton, Devon.
But when she spotted the white Mercedes 'James' had told her to look out for, she saw four men waiting for her.
Amy said: "I saw him get out the car with three other people.
"It all happened so fast. [At first I thought] he looked like him, but afterwards I found out he used fake photos because he had a partner.
"All of the men started walking towards my car. I rang his number and his phone lit up and I drove off."
She continued: "I drove off and he rang me and asked why [I ran away]. I said 'Why's there loads of you?'.
"At first he said he brought a friend with him because he didn't know I was genuine, then it came out it was a fake name.
"He then said 'Okay, fine, I'm Matthew. I used a fake name and fake pictures because I've got a girlfriend and I didn't want her to know'.
"I wondered what he thought I was going to do when I got there and realised he was a different person.
"He sent me a message after I said 'what the hell was your plan when you are bringing three other blokes to meet a girl on her own in a pub car park at night time?'
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"He asked me not to phone the police and admitted 'I'm disgusted with my thoughts and behaviour tonight'.
"To me he was going to do something really dodgy. I told him 'You're sick. Don't contact me again' and blocked his number. I was so angry.
"I phoned a friend and said to her that the weirdest thing just happened. The more I thought of it I realised it was really dodgy."
After calling 101, Amy said the incident was handed Devon and Cornwall Police before being passed on to Avon and Somerset Police.
But catfishing - which involves using a fake profile or identity to forge a romantic relationship with someone online - is not currently illegal in the UK.
Amy said a police officer texted her to say he had spoken to the man, who admitted he wasn't called James but claimed he was the only one in the car.
She said: "The police asked 'Did he touch you?' They said unless he'd actually attacked me, he hadn't committed a crime.
"There's no law against using fake names online and using fake profiles.
"He basically said if I was under 18 it would be illegal, but because I'm 28 it's not.
"What if he went to meet another girl and convinced her to get the bus or train somewhere? I had a car to get away in."
Amy shared her story online as a warning for others - with some people even coming forward with claims that they had spoken to the same man.
"I want to raise awareness of this now," she said.
"So many people have come forward to say they've been in contact with the same guy.
"I've had around seven or eight messages from people saying they had spoken to this guy, but with different names, different place, same picture.
"I've been bombarded with messages from women saying they've had similar with a different guy.
"People need to know this is going on.
"I've met loads of people off the internet, I always tell someone where I'm going. I'd never meet someone down a lane."
A spokesperson from Avon and Somerset Police said: "We've spoken to both parties and there's no evidence that any criminal offences have been committed."
A spokesperson from the Online Dating Association said: "It is worrying to hear what was reported.
"No-one would fix a date with one bloke and think it in any way okay for others to turn up.
"Over a third of all new relationships start online and sites and apps are part of everyday life for millions of us.
"That is why operators work to check profiles, block troublemakers and act on reports of any thing untoward.
"We do not speak for individual operators - whether they are in membership or not.
"Parts of the Match group are members and have greatly supported our work on safety and other standards.
"Tinder currently are not but will be sure to have profile checks and reporting in place."
Tinder has been contacted for comment.
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